Sunday, June 5, 2011

The "Capitoline Venus" on Display at National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The lady doesn't get around much.  I'm happy to see the particular artist who did this copy (of a now lost orignal by Praxiteles, called the Aphrodite of Cnidus) used a middle-aged woman for his model.  No 90 pound weakling, this lady! 

Statue Leaves Italy for the First Time Since 1816 for Exhibition at the National Gallery of Art
June 5, 2011

The Capitoline Venus from the Capitoline Museums.
WASHINGTON (AP).- One of the best preserved sculptures from Roman antiquity, the "Capitoline Venus," has left Italy for the first time in nearly 200 years for a special display at the National Gallery of Art.

The installation goes on public view Saturday through early September, the museum announced Thursday. The full-scale female nude statue has only left Rome one other time: when it was seized by Napoleon and taken to France in 1797. It was returned to Rome's Capitoline Museum in 1816 after Napoleon fell from power.

Gallery Director Earl A. Powell III called it a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to see the piece in the United States. It will have a prime spot as a museum centerpiece for the busy summer months.

"The 'Venus' will feel right at home in our West Building Rotunda, which was designed by John Russell Pope and was based on the Pantheon in Rome," Powell said in a written statement.

The sculpture is a descendent from the "Aphrodite of Cnidos" by Greek sculptor Praxiteles around 360 B.C. That sculpture was groundbreaking in art history for its introduction of the large-scale nude female form as a subject.

The statue was unearthed in the 1670s in a garden in the remains of an ancient building, according to historical accounts. The statue was intact, except for the nose, some fingers and a hand that had broken off. It was later reattached. Pope Benedict XIV gave the sculpture to the Capitoline Museum in 1752.

This is the first time it has been lent for exhibition.

The exhibit is part of an effort by Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno to display masterpieces in the United States between 2011 and 2013. It also marks the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification as a single state.

Next week, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray plans to sign a proclamation announcing a new sister city agreement with Alemanno.
According to Wikipedia, the lady is "The Modest Venus."  Bwwwwwaaaaaaahhhhhaaaaaaa!  Yeah, so she's covering her vulva with her hand and "beginning" to cover her breasts with her other hand and arm.  So why didn't she just grab the towel/cloth conveniently laid across the top of the bathing jug right next to her heh?  Modest, my patootey.  Her strategically placed hands draw attention to her feminine attributes rather than disguising them!  Duh! 

I'm more inclined to Barbara G. Walker's interpretation in her Encyclopedia under the listing Pudens and Pudenziana, Saints:

Naive Christian canonization of the symbolic genitalia of Rome's God and Goddess (pudenda).  According to the Christian legend, Pudenziana was the usual virgin convert, a daughter of Pudens, a wealthy patrician.  Peter and Paul lodged in the house of Pudenziana on their (mythical) visit to Rome.  With the help of a holy man named Pastorus (Shepherd), St. Pudenziana soaked up the blood of Christian martyrs in sponges, which she hiod in a well.(1)  The tale was often cited to account for te numerous bottles of martyrs' blood used as healing relics in countless churches.

The well with its holy blood probably meant the yonic "pit" (puteus) in the Forum, where the spirits of blessed ancestors dwelt.  The Shephered Pastorus was a form of the Pyschopomp or Conductor of Souls, sometimes called Shepherd of the Stars.


(1)  Brewster, 250-51. 
Once again I found some absolutely fascinating information at Wikipedia:  The Church of St. Pudenziana is the oldest in Rome.  It was originally built over a 2nd century CE residence and was used as a residence by the early popes.

Get this:  The Peter chapel, on the left side of the apse, contains a part of the table at which Saint Peter would have held the celebration of the Eucharist in the house of Saint Pudens.

Bwwwwwwwaaaaahhhhhhaaaaaaa!  Okay, so I'm pagan jerk for laughing at this, but it's just so damn funny!  Here's the corker - this quote from the late "Roman" 4th century mosaic from inside the "church":  Dominus conservator ecclesiae Pudentianae.

This is translated, according to Wikipedia as:  The Lord is the preserver of the church of Pudenziana.

Hmmmmm, how about this translation:  The Lord keeps Pudens in her sacred house.  In other words, he's a pimp and she's his ho. Not just any ho though, no no no.  She's a sacred ho, ha ha ha.  Ho ho ho.  She got the Ultimate Big Ho in the Ground (hint: the well).  Ho Ho Ho.  Well, I thought it was funny...

This version of Pudenziana had a sister, also a saint -- St. Praxedix or Praxedes, rather than the Shepherd Pastorus referenced in Walker's information on St. Pudenziana.  I was struck by the irony - how similar Praxides sounds to Praxiteles, the sculptor of the Aphrodite of Cnidus, who started this whole post.

And the wheels go round and round...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Praxiteles corrected four times / Praxiteles corregido cuatro veces

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...